During March Madness Is the Side or Total the Best Bet?

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 5:23 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2017 5:23 PM UTC

One question that is posed to me during March Madness is: Should I as the sports bettor look more closely at totals along with side bets to maximize wagering opportunities this time of year?

Your average basketball bettor definitely prefers to make wagers against the spread on sides compared to totals. And the simple reason is they feel more informed with the point spread vs. knowing and understanding totals. Is this the right strategy or should those making college basketball picks spend more time studying and learning totals?


Stick With What You Know

If you hardly make any totals bets and decide you want to now, that is a potentially devastating mistake. Nothing can drain a bank account faster than guessing, and there is a reason they call this "March Madness" because a lot of strange events occur. Your best bet is to learn about betting totals in college basketball and apply it next season, when you have acquired a new betting skill.


Better Value In Wagering on Totals?

In my new e-book, "Crushing College Hoops in March," a great deal of time is talking about mostly against the spread discussion; however, we also have a chapter devoted exclusively to totals. In terms of getting the top value for the money you are wagering, totals offer the best opportunities and here is why:

If you were watching the shows on Sunday and Monday about the NCAA Tournament field, the most popular upset calls were made on Middle Tennessee, Florida Gulf Coast and Rhode Island. Of the five games that have a point spread for the Thursday/Friday matchups that have moved two or more points, these were three of chosen contests. No question the influence of so-called TV experts played a part in moving the lines on these games, which could prove accurate.

If you watched TV or were in your car on Monday or Tuesday listening to sports talk radio, other than possibly a few stations in Nevada, did you hear any talk about totals for the first round of games? With rare exception the answer is "No" -- yet seven of the battles that will take place in the actual first round had a total that moved by at least two points.

This clearly shows when the numbers are released on sides and totals, the best value (not necessarily winners) is on totals.


Keep Your Eyes Open & Pay Attention

In the book, I also speak about understanding what happens in a given year. Case in point was games played in the smaller tournaments onMarch 14. In recent years, the first-round contests in the NIT, CBI and CIT have been good 'over' bets. On that night, all 11 games saw the total rise at least 2.5 points, with Ole Miss/Monmouth number climbing an incredible seven points (160 to 167). Though Mississippi and Monmouth ended up correct, for the night the 'under' was 6-5. On March 15, it was more of the same, with all but one encounter having a totals lifted at least two points early. Is this the correct way to play or an overreaction in the marketplace?

When studying the college basketball odds, it is always best to understand current trends, figure out what they mean and bet them accordingly.

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